IN LEETON’S early days, the original police station was started in a tent, set up by Constable William O’Brien adjacent to Crusher Camp on Palm Avenue East.
Calls for a suitable police station and court house started mid-1915, with a request to local member Mr McGarry MLA while in the meantime, the Coastal Farmers premises in Pine Avenue were made available to house the post office and police quarters.
By early 1916, despite movement of young men to war, the area was still growing at a great rate and the need for a courthouse, police station, police residence, and a hospital was again emphasised by a deputation before the Premier.
Plans for a police station were finally prepared but the government stated it did not have the funds, so the building would be held in abeyance. “The Justice Department has solemnly, stolidly and obstinately refused to favourably consider the matter until 'after the war. In small things as well as large it is becoming increasingly evident that politicians are growing absolutely indifferent in regard to keeping their pledges. It is easily conceivable that there might be portions in the district who would suffer a wrong rather than seek to have it righted, because of the expense and loss of time which would be incurred in undertaking a journey of 40 miles to Narrandera Court and back to reach the fountain of justice.”
The government used the fact that Leeton was under prohibition, so there was no need for police.
‘Arrests for the past 12 months do not run into double figures - a record which, according to the population of the district, is unique evidence of the law-abiding character of the people.”
In January 1917, work in connection with the erection of temporary quarters for the police was proceeding on the site adjoining the Olympia Café near the current Irrigator office.
Plans for a permanent police station at 24 Oak Street, were finally supplied by the Department of Public Works with the building constructed by WC Hanson of West Wyalong being completed in 1924. After seven years, they were transferred to this “more commodious and permanent police station, built at a cost of £4, 560”.
“The new structure has the appearance of a modern brick cottage with a red-tiled roof with three bedrooms, a living room, a well-set kitchen with stove, a built-in storeroom, and a bathroom complete with bath and wash basin for the married officer in charge. This office is fitted up with a telephone and two cells are situated on the opposite side of the porch with massive walls built of brick and concrete 30 inches thick.”
By 1961 there were 10 police officers in Leeton.